Optimal Inertia: When organizations should fail

We challenge the premise that the CEO’s job is to keep the corporation alive and thriving at all costs and under all circumstances. We briefly review the differing normative views of strategic management theorists and organizational theorists about organizational inertia. We then develop an economic model of incumbent behavior in the face of challenger competition that accommodates complementary assets. The model predicts and describes conditions under which organizational inertia, as subsequent organizational failure, is optimal. We then extend the logic and propose that the failure of entrepreneurial firms does not necessarily imply the failure of entrepreneurs. We conclude with a call to study ‘‘exit’’ as a viable strategic option.

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Saras Sarasvathy
Nick Dew
Brent Goldfarb
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